Across history, technological advancement is the fuel that powers growth and expansion in industrial trades. Custom metal fabrication is no exception. Over the last 100 years, metal fabrication technologies evolved to drastically change how companies form and weld metal. Among these advances is the advent of the hydraulic press brake.
Press Brake Bending and Forming Defined
Press brakes bend material into precise, desired shapes using carefully controlled pressure. The mechanical bending involves clamping a workpiece between a matching punch and die. The punch applies consistent force while the metal is pushed, and the die controls the finished shape or angle. The machine is operated by foot pedals, which free up the use of the machinist’s hands.
The History of the Press Brake
Before machines were being built, sheet metal was bent by fastening it to a mold or a 3D scale model. A t-stake was then used to pound the sheet into the desired shape. The process was commonly used for making the breastplates of suits of armor.
Mechanical press brakes were introduced during the second industrial revolution, when the U.S. was seeing a major boom in the use of fabricated steel products. This rising demand necessitated mass production of formed steel sheets, in uses ranging from bridge and building construction to components of automobile frames. These first press brakes were simple in design, manually operated and largely unsafe.
In the 1950s, the advent of better hydraulics paved the way for the sophisticated technology used in today’s press brake equipment.
The Advantages of Press Brake Bending and Forming
Today’s press brakes are fast, precise and can take on larger projects. They produce less waste than machining and are often easier to set up and require less expensive tooling than stamping or roll forming. CNC technology can also help accurately bend materials in a variety of ways.
Badger Sheet Metal Works’ Press Brake Technology
Since 2010, BSMW has continuously invested in advances in press brake technology.
The BSMW shop features press brakes delivering precise metal bending services at a variety of tonnage strengths and lengths up to 168.5 inches.
In addition to straight-line bending, BSMW’s press brakes use computer technology to bend metal and other materials into complex shapes that include cylinders and cones.
BSMW Press Brake Equipment
- 1-HDS2204NT: Max Bend Length 168.5″ – 243 TON
- 1-HDS8025NT: Max Bend Length 101.0″ – 88 TON
- 1-135AF Auto- Form CNC Forming Center, 8″ Stroke
- 144″ bed, 135 ton
- 1-230CB Hydraulic 10″ Stroke
- 144″ bed 230 ton
MAX LENGTH & THICKNESS
- 7G < 160″ max length
- .25 < 120″ max length
- .375 < 75″ max length
- .500 < 60″ max length
BSMW can accommodate everything from standard to custom bends and bump forming and works with a variety of materials, specializing in carbon, stainless steel, aluminum, galvanized steel, and galvannealed steel. The industries it serves include food and dairy, mining, petroleum, material handling, packaging and beverage.
With BSMW’s Amada press brakes, bending and forming can be automated using CAD/CAM drawings.
Specialized computer programs control the presses, increasing efficiencies and shrinking lead times.
“We provide the dimension and the radius we’re looking for, and it calculates everything all on its own,” explained Vicki Kraszewski, a BSMW press brake operator. “If you have a part you are bump forming that needs 60 hits on it, I don’t need to write 60 steps. I only have to write one step, and then I can adjust that one step. It’s a huge time saver.”
Quality Control: Press Once, Check Twice
BSMW not only does in-process inspections at each stage of the fabrication process, but also passes all parts through a final inspection process prior to shipping to the customer.
“The first piece checked is 100% inspected–everything is checked, and we go through the second piece with a fine-toothed comb as well,” explained Kraszewski. “If it is a quantity part where they’re running 500 parts, we’ll check one every 10 to make sure everything is running well. If something isn’t running well, we’ll go back to check the previous parts to see what went wrong and fix everything to make sure. Quality is big top of the list thing that we do here.”
BSMW maintains an ISO 9001:2015 compliant quality management system to help ensure all processes are followed and maintained throughout fabrication, from initial quote to delivered part. The inspection team is dedicated to ensuring all parts meet customer requirements every time.
Meet Vicki, BSMW’s Press Brake Extraordinaire
A 16-year veteran in the industry, Vicki Kraszewski has worked as a press brake operator at BSMW since 2010. Expansive knowledge in metal, tooling, bump forming and general press brake operation has helped Vicki advance to the forefront of the BSMW custom metal fabrication team.
She enjoys the variety, and unique challenges, inherent in every project that passes through the company’s press brakes.
“I’m not bending the exact same thing every day—I have different parts in front of me all the time, so I’m constantly challenging myself with, ‘How do I make this part?’, ‘What sequence do I need to use?’, ‘What’s the process to bend?’,” she explained. “The most rewarding work is the bump forming because it is the most intricate and requires a bit more skill and knowledge.”
Press brakes have been widely used for decades, lending improved output and accuracy to a myriad of industries. Companies which embrace the evolving nature of the machine are better positioned to benefit from it the most, leveraging its inherent efficiencies into meaningful growth. BSMW remains committed to continuously improving its press brake technology whenever possible, so no part will ever feature a tolerance too tight, or a shape too unique.
Contact BSMW today to learn more about the company’s press brake capabilities or to request a production quote.